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Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Conservatives 7/2 to win overall majority in 2015

The Conservative party are now 7/2 to win an overall majority at the general election according to Ladbrokes.

David Cameron's speech laid down the gauntlet to his rivals for 2015 however the betting markets suggest him and his party will have their work cut out with Labour just 7/4 for a majority, although it's favoured at 11/10 that no party manages to form one.

When it comes to who will be Prime Minister in time for next year's Queen's Speech, Ed Miliband leads the way at 4/5 with David Cameron 5/4 to remain at Number 10.

Alex Donohue of Ladbrokes said: "Cameron stepped his election campaign up a gear but the betting suggests Labour are still in pole position should either party secure a majority. As a result, Miliband remains odds-on to receive the keys to Number 10."

Ladbrokes latest betting

Next government

Labour majority 7/4
Conservative majority 7/2
Lab-Lib Dem coalition 4/1
Con-Lib Dem coalition 6/1
Con-UKIP coalition 20/1

Overall majority

No overall majority 11/10
Labour majority 7/4
Conservative majority 7/2
UKIP majority 100/1
Liberal Democrat majority 200/1

Most seats

Labour 8/11
Conservatives 6/5
UKIP 50/1
Liberal Democrat 200/

Prime Minister for the 2015 Queen's Speech

Ed Miliband 4/5
David Cameron 5/4
Boris Johnson 50/1
Nigel Farage 66/1

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Julian Huppert's letter to the Home Secretary

Following a speech by the Home Secretary Theresa May referencing the Communications Data Bill, the Liberal Democrat spokesman on Home Affairs, Justice and Equalities Julian Huppert has sent the letter below to Theresa May: 
Dear Theresa, 
We disagree on the Communications Data Bill.
The Liberal Democrat position is clear: we do not think that the proposal to store a record of every citizen's internet browsing for 12 months is compatible with our basic civil liberties. We also do not think it is right to force UK companies to keep track of everything people do on Google, Facebook or other websites. You appear determined to push ahead with the scheme at all costs, regardless of widespread public concern. I'm more than happy to continue to have that debate as we approach the general election. 
But there are limits. I was utterly dismayed by the suggestion in your conference speech today that my party has put children's lives at risk. 
That is an extraordinary claim, and one which must be backed with compelling evidence. Instead, you cited figures from the National Crime Agency which were entirely misleading. You said:
"Over a six-month period, the National Crime Agency estimates that it had to drop at least twenty cases as a result of missing communications data. Thirteen of these were threat-to-life cases, in which a child was judged to be at risk of imminent harm [...] The solution to this crisis of national security was the Communications Data Bill. But two years ago, it was torpedoed by the Liberal Democrats."
The National Crime Agency cases you cite were, I understand, unable to proceed because it was not possible to connect the IP address used for the communication to a particular device. 'IP matching' is a genuine problem, and as you know, Liberal Democrats have supported and continue to support action to solve it. Following our vetoing of the Communications Data Bill, we supported including proposals to resolve this problem in the Queen's Speech. 
Since then, nothing has happened. No such proposals have been brought forward by your department.
Responsibility for the lack of data in the cases you cite, and the risk thereby caused to individuals, including children, therefore lies exclusively at your door. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the Liberal Democrats. 
I realise that your conference speeches are not subject to the same levels of accuracy as statements in the House of Commons, but nonetheless I would expect you to issue a public correction and an apology at the earliest opportunity.


Conservative Voters Would Prefer Coalition With The Liberal Democrats Over a Minority Tory Government

Conservative voters would rather a repeat of the current Tory-Lib Dem coalition after 2015 than see the party try and go it alone as a minority government.

A Survation survey for The Huffington Post, published on today, found that in the event of a hung parliament a second Conservative-Lib Dem deal was preferred by Tory voters to one party minority rule by a margin of 53% to 37%.

Many also would rather David Cameron reject a second power sharing agreement and go it alone should he win more seats than Ed Miliband, but fall short of an overall majority.

The poll found that Labour voters were divided on the same question, with 40% preferring a Lib-Lab coalition and 41% preferring Miliband try and lead a minority Labour government.

The survey found that overall voters were not sold on coalitions. When asked, 39% of all those asked said they would choose a minority government. The poll revealed 21% would choose a Con-Lib Dem coalition, 19% would pick a Lib-Lab deal and 22% did not know.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Coalition split as PCS call removing means of collecting union subs is 'blinkered political attack'

The Conservative party's plan to end the collection of trade union subscriptions through salaries is a "blinkered political attack", the Public and Commercial Services union says. In his speech at the Conservative party conference today, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude said the system known as check-off is being stopped at short notice in the Home Office and other departments are actively considering banning it.

But we're told the Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander has written to all Secretaries of State and Permanent Secretaries to confirm there is "no fiscal case" for removing check-off and that unions have offered to meet the costs "which are in any case minimal". "There is no public policy case to do this in any department across Whitehall," he adds.

Mr Alexander also reminds his cabinet colleagues that the union successfully fought a high court case last year against Eric Pickles' attempt to remove check-off in the Department for Communities and Local Government, and states the Treasury will not fund any departments' legal costs in defending similar cases.

Many large employers in the private as well as public sector use the method because they recognise the benefits of having good industrial relations and the benefits of trade unions to society. Charities and other organisations also collect subscriptions through salaries and these are being allowed to continue in the civil service.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "With the Treasury confirming there is no financial or policy necessity, it is impossible to see this as anything other than a blinkered political attack on trade unions. Many modern employers allow unions to use this convenient and simple method because they recognise the huge benefits of having good industrial relations."

Osborne's pay cuts leading to strikes next month

George Osborne's commitment to cutting public sector pay, confirmed in his Conservative party conference speech, has sparked a fresh wave of strike action, the Public and Commercial Services union says.

Up to a quarter of a million civil servants will be on strike on Wednesday 15 October, co-ordinated with other public sector walkouts that week. The strikes come ahead of the TUC's 'Britain Needs a Pay Rise' demonstrations in London and Glasgow on Saturday 18 October. Public servants' wages were frozen for two years after 2010 and subsequently capped at 1%. Added to the increase in monthly pension contributions and the effects of inflation, this means many civil servants will have suffered a 20% cut in their incomes by next year.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "George Osborne's government, propped up by the Lib Dems, has slashed the living standards of public servants while the super rich have been rewarded with tax cuts. Days after voting for air strikes on Iraq likely to cost billions of pounds, politicians of all parties continue to peddle the myth that there is not enough money around to pay civil servants, nurses or teachers."

George Osborne: Choose the future

In his conference speech today, George Osborne set out the choice at the next election between David Cameron and the Conservatives who have answers to the big questions about Britain's future, or Ed Miliband and the Labour Party who would repeat the mistakes of the past.

George Osborne said: "I believe it is perfectly possible for Britain to be the most prosperous major country on earth. The most prosperous, the most dynamic, the most creative. But only if we, in our generation, provide the big answers to the big questions. Only if we choose the future not the past."

He also set out the next steps in the Conservatives' plan to eliminate the deficit and run a surplus in the next parliament:

  • The Conservatives will freeze working age benefits from April 2016 for two years. This will save £3.2 billion a year by 2017/18. Disability, carer and pensioner benefits are excluded, as are several smaller benefits such as statutory maternity pay.
George Osborne said: "Working age benefits in Britain will have to be frozen for two years. This is the choice Britain needs to take to protect our economic stability and to secure a better future. The fairest way to reduce welfare bills is to make sure that benefits are not rising faster than the wages of the taxpayers who are paying for them. For we will provide a welfare system that is fair to those who need it, and fair to those who pay for it too."
  • In the Autumn Statement the Treasury will end abuse by multinationals who divert profits offshore in order to avoid corporation tax. This will raise hundreds of millions of pounds as part of an anti-avoidance package raising billions of pounds over the next Parliament. This change will mainly affect multinationals using artificial arrangements to route profits to tax havens that would otherwise have been taxed in the UK. New anti-avoidance measures will dramatically reduce the benefits from complex arrangements such as the so-called "double Irish" used by some large multinationals, particularly in the technology sector. This measure comes after the progress made at the G20 and the OECD by the international "Base Erosion and Profit Shifting" (BEPS) project in which the UK has played a leading role.
George Osborne said: "While we offer some of the lowest business taxes in the world, we expect those taxes to be paid - not avoided. Some technology companies go to extraordinary lengths to pay little or no tax here. If you abuse our tax system, you abuse the trust of the British people. And my message to those companies is clear: we will put a stop to it. Low taxes, but low taxes that are paid. Part of our effort to reduce our deficit. For our choice is that we are all in this together."

The Chancellor also confirmed that:

  • This Government will abolish the punitive 55 per cent tax on death that is charged when people pass on a pension pot. The measure will apply to all payments made from April 2015, and means that people who have worked hard and saved all their lives will be able to pass on their hard-earned pension pot tax-free.
  • The Conservatives will abolish long term youth unemployment. We will deliver three million apprenticeships over the next Parliament. On top of that, if a young person has been unemployed for six months they will have to take an apprenticeship, training, or work for their benefits. Our plans will give hundreds of thousands of young people the opportunity of a better, more secure future. And we will pay for it by cutting the benefit cap and stopping most young people from claiming Housing Benefit.
Chris Leslie MP, Labour’s Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, commenting on George Osborne’s speech to the Conservative Party Annual Conference, said: "Having failed to balance the books in this Parliament George Osborne has made his choice. He is choosing to give the richest one per cent a £3 billion-a-year tax cut and opposing a mansion tax while cutting tax credits which make work pay for millions of striving families. While working people have seen their wages fall by £1600 a year since 2010, the Tories have once again shown they are the party of a privileged few at the top."

Talking about Labour's plans, Mr Leslie commented: "Labour will balance the books as soon as possible in the next Parliament, but we will do so in a fairer way. We will reverse the Tory tax cut for millionaires, stop paying the winter fuel allowance to the richest five per cent of pensioners and cap child benefit rises at one per cent for two years."

Poll of marginals shows 11 point Labour lead

A new ComRes/ITV News poll of the 40 most marginal Labour-Conservative constituencies, shows Labour holding an 11 point lead over the Conservatives. At the 2010 General Election the two parties were tied on 37% across these 40 seats. Labour currently has 41% of the vote in these battleground constituencies, an increase of five points since June, with the Conservatives on 30%, the Liberal Democrats on 6% and UKIP on 17% (up from 3% in 2010).

Conservative: 30% (-1)
Labour: 41% (+5)
Liberal Democrat: 6% (-1)
UKIP: 17% (n/c)
Other: 6% (-2)

Figures in brackets show changes since June

Despite Labour's large lead in these battleground seats, more people say they would rather have David Cameron as Prime Minister than Ed Miliband (46%), 33% say they would rather Ed Miliband. Six in ten (59%) people say that Ed Miliband puts them off voting for Labour, this includes two in five (38%) people that say they will vote for Labour.

David Cameron's premiership appears divisive in the marginals, with as many saying he has been a good Prime Minister (41%) as saying he has been bad (43%). While he receives the backing of his party (84% of Conservatives say he has been a good PM) and the Liberal Democrats (55%), 56% of UKIP voters say he has been a bad Prime Minister as do 67% of Labour voters.

Despite Boris Johnson's popularity, more residents in marginal constituencies think he would make a bad Prime Minister (43%) than think he would be good (32%).

In the event of a Coalition after the next election, the Liberal Democrats are preferred to UKIP as the junior partner by 42%, compared to 35% who would rather see UKIP in a Coalition. Conservatives appear split on the choice of a Coalition partner, with 47% preferring the Liberal Democrats and 40% in favour of UKIP.

Half (51%) of the public in the 40 marginal seats say they would never vote for UKIP, even if they could win in their constituency. A third (33%) say they would consider voting UKIP at next year's General Election.

Tom Mludzinski, Head of Political Polling, ComRes said: "These are the seats where the General Election next year will be won and lost and Labour have opened up a convincing lead. However, despite the polls pointing to a Labour victory, voters in the marginals prefer David Cameron as a Prime Minister to Ed Miliband and the Conservatives will be hoping that is enough to swing enough people back round to back them when it comes to the ballot in May 2015."

(Base: 1,000 adults in marginal constituencies)